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Robust interaction at CARICOM Reform consultations in Jamaica

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KINGSTON, Jamica -     Change was in the air in Kingston, Jamaica for the past week as the CARICOM Reform Process was the focus of attention at national consultations.

Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, who led the team at the consultations, expressed satisfaction at the robust interaction with the various stakeholders. “I was quite pleased with the exercise,” he said on Thursday evening at the end of the consultations which saw the Change Facilitation Team engaging with the stakeholders to get their views on the way forward for the Community and indicate areas of priority in developing the Strategic Plan for CARICOM 2014-18.

The recruitment of a Change Facilitation team resulted from discussions among Heads of Government at their Inter-sessional Meeting in Suriname in 2012 after receiving a report on the Review of the Secretariat. The leaders agreed that it was necessary to re-examine the future direction of the Community and the arrangements for carrying this forward which would include the role and function of the CARICOM Secretariat.

The Strategic Plan will, among other things, identify the priority areas of focus for the Community and guide the restructuring of the Secretariat. The facilitation team which has a three-year mandate is being assisted with resources from the Government of the United Kingdom through the Department for International Development (DFID) and began work in the CARICOM Secretariat last November.

Jamaica was the 10th Member State of the Community visited by the Team as it seeks the widest possible input into the process. The consultations included a session with Prime Minister, the Most Honourable Portia Simpson Miller and her Cabinet. The Team also met with Leader of the Opposition, the Honourable Andrew Holness. The private sector, labour, civil society and youth also presented their views as did the CARICOM Institutions based in Kingston and the University of the West Indies (UWI).

All the stakeholders spoke of their commitment to the integration movement and expressed their desire to make it work in an equitable fashion. Major areas of priority which arose from the discussion included the need for a plan to engender sustainable economic growth and development; solutions for the transportation challenges within the Community; the need for greater public education and communication and greater attention to climate change issues.

The Change Facilitation Team will be in Belize in the coming week.